Portrait of a Serial Monogamist a love letter to Toronto

The "bike date" scene, above, is one of the many in POASM that involves riding bikes around our great city.

Portrait of a Serial Monogamist a love letter to Toronto

New film puts bikes, Parkdale and heartache in the spotlight

Review by Tammy Thorne and Amelia Brown

Photos and video provided by the filmmakers

Diane Flacks and Vanessa Dunn 11

The new Toronto-produced film, Portrait of a Serial Monogomist, portrays neighbourhoods and city life in Toronto with more tenderness than the main character Elsie shows to any of her love interests.

The film starts out with Elsie (played by Diane Flacks) evasively dumping her girlfriend and then taking off on her bike. She rides along Queen West through Parkdale and reflects: “I live in Toronto. Not the Toronto for New York or Toronto for Chicago, the real Toronto.”

As Elsie rides the recognizable streets of Toronto on her bike, there are some stunning shots of the view of the city that's only available straddled on the saddle on top of two wheels.

When she hits Queen and Spadina, she says: "Toronto is a big city made up of many small towns – or maybe it’s a small town that wants to be a big city.”

Elsie continues to ride along, passing Queen West storefronts, girls laughing, smoking, a woman walking by wearing sparkly sequined hijab, more storefronts. She rides further and ultimately introduces us to her own enclave or "small town", a.k.a. Queer West.

Diane Flacks and Vanessa Dunn 6 BIKES

Biking the railpath.

It's refreshing to see a movie filmed here that shows Toronto as itself. “Portrait” (or POASM) is unabashed in it's love of Toronto: there's a break-up scene at Sneaky Dees, and another character works as a barista at Depanneur. The film features Kensington Market, West Toronto Railpath, the Toronto Islands and even the "Bellwoods bowl" dog park. But Parkdale is the real star of the film.

**1st AD Aline Robichaud with Christina Zeidler

On set in Kensington Market.

Co-writer/director Christina Zeidler is owner of The Gladstone Hotel, a Queen West landmark and home to an artsy bike-riding subculture of visitors and staff. dandyhorse has thrown a few really decent parties there in the past. We've also run into Christina riding her bike while doing our Bike Spotting streeters.

So it's indeed very dandy to see people biking around Toronto (as Toronto) in a film. It’s great that cycling is normalized as a part of a character's life in any kind of medium or story.

One of my favourite scenes is the cat Charlie's funeral, where Elsie struggles to navigate social functions that involved her ex-girlfriend.

Beloved Charlie

Shrine to the deceased Charlie the cat at his funeral...or was it a wake?

The cast includes notable Canadian actors, Gavin Crawford, Robin Duke, Grave Lynn Kung, Aurora Browne, Howard Jerome and Vanessa Dunn. Cameos by Regina the Gentlelady and Keith Cole (who we profiled in our magazine) were notable, as is the excellent score by Don Pyle of Shadowy Men fame. A true tribute to Toronto all around.

I’m thankful that this sappy rom-com didn’t have a happy ending. Instead, she kind of gets what's coming to her. In her race to confront her ex in the film's dramatic conclusion, Elsie throws her bike to the side of the road. She really shouldn’t have trashed her bike like that just because it got a flat...and because she realized she'd found true love. Tsk. Tsk.

Portrait of a Serial Monogamist is a fun movie that is a love letter to Toronto with a healthy dash of babeliness. We enjoyed it.

POASM is at Carlton Cinemas, 20 Carlton, from February 12-29, with daily screenings. Advance tickets for POASM.

Diane Flacks and Vanessa Dunn 7   Diane Flacks and Bicycle 1

Related on the dandyBLOG:

dandyARCHIVE: Get over it! Keith Cole mayoral candidate 2010

Bike spotting on King at Spadina: Would you support a King St. transit mall?

dandyhorse Spring 2011 issue launch party at the Gladstone Hotel

dandyARCHIVE: Where are you go? Beautiful ain't always easy

The Routes film: Through Kitigan Zibi on bicycle

Bicycles in film: Some of tinseltown's top two-wheeling moments

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